Friday, April 30, 2010

[New Site URL--A Real Domain Name!]

So I'm thinking of upgrading (fairly inexpensively, I must say!) to a domain name, but I want some feedback from you guys on what sounds best to you (I'm not always the best judge of what might sound too cheesy or emo):

www.dryadniki.com (a throwback to The Chronicles of Narnia, along with classic mythology)
www.the-ethereal-portal.com (a throwback to She-ra, who lived on Etheria, as well as my working novel title)
www.blackmagicmore.com (based on my ode to caffeine)
www.holdingontothemagic.com (a commentary on how there's a part of me that won't let go of the fairy tales, because so many other things have gotten lost along the way).

Vote in the new poll on my blog's sidebar --> and in one week, I'll make a choice!

Monday, April 26, 2010

[Ludicrous Grace]

At church yesterday, Rich preached on being filled with the Holy Spirit.  I'm glad and irritated that he did.  Why? It's wise, it's good, it's powerful... and it's terrifying.

To ask to be filled with the Holy Spirit is to surrender, to give up all the selfishness and ways of the world.  That surrender means that I might end up going down a path that scares the s**t out of me.  It might mean giving up my independence.  It might mean accepting that all my dreams (marriage, a career, etc.) might not come to pass because He has other plans.  They may be better plans (actually, there's no "may" in this situation), but they're different than I have in mind for myself.  And that, my friends, is scary.

I'm just going to be totally and vaguely honest here.  I've got some pet sins.  These are the sins that I don't like controlling my life, but I enjoy when I commit them.  That sounds horrible, right?  But that's the thing about sin.  It wouldn't be tempting if it didn't feel good in the moment.  But I know what it does to me, and I see the wall that's gone up over the past two and a half years in which I've lost a certain amount of control over that sin.  I felt guilty (still do) and embarrassed.  Too embarrassed to do anything more than turn my head slightly to the side and upward and say, "Um, sorry, God.  My bad.  I'm a jerk," and then do the same thing a few days later.

I need to pray that the Spirit fill my soul and defeat this sin, but I'm not going to lie.  I'm afraid to.  It's silly, I know, since God's grace is so abundant and His love so much better than my little made-up world.  But here I sit, knowing what I need to do, but holding back for a little while more.

I'll give in soon, I promise.  I don't like being controlled by these unholy desires.  In God's grace is freedom, and I do still remember that.

Sometimes I think it would be easier if I could just give up on my faith--just accept that I have so many doubts and say, "Nah, I don't really believe."  I've even tried.  Yeah, this is the first time I admit that.  I've tried to not believe.  But here's the thing: I can't help it.  My spirit has seen too much.  He's real, He's there, and He's... God.  I can't NOT believe.  I can choose to ignore Him, but that doesn't change His existence or my belief.

I don't like struggling with these sins, but as in all things negative, God has a way of working them into greater miracles.  I grew up a goody-two shoes.  Being a "good kid," though I theologically understood the need for grace, I didn't necessarily feel it (except for a few brief spurts during adolescence).  However, in facing doubts and intense temptations (and failing miserably at times) I fully understand Grace now.  I can recognize my wretchedness in a way I did not before.  The fact that He can still love me after all I've done in my heart to shut Him out just shows the scandalous extent of His love.  So, in a way, I'm glad that I've struggled.  I hate the guilt and consequences, but I'm grateful for the chance to appreciate His grace.

I'm a writer... so it helps me to write out what I'm feeling before I act on it.  I have a feeling things are going to be different soon. It's a good thing... but I'm still terrified.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

[Sassy Video!]

[You Know Teaching English is Taking Over Your Life When...]

  • You have nightmares that comma splices are trying to splice you.
  • You're so broken up over a beloved author mixing up "your" and "you're" in his blog entry that you come thisclose to removing his blog feed from your list (but loyalty finally wins out)
  • You're crushed when your crush writes an email or posts a Facebook update and replaces "you" with "u," and you promptly decided it's time to move on.
  • In spite of a backache, you sit for six hours in a crowded, noisy commons area waiting for four students who might or might not show up for conferencing, then wake up the next morning with a massive migraine.
  • After finals, you have nightmares that all your classes, past and present, have marched up to your doorstep, torches and pitchforks in hand, demanding a recount.
  • You feel giddy when your favorite writing textbook comes out with a revised edition.
  • The real reason you're still single is because, without fail, every opportunity to leave the house is trumped by the need to grade a four-foot high pile of grammar assignments.
  • The real reason that pile of grammar assignments has gotten so high is because you dread finding out that no one listened to a word you lectured for two months straight, and when you finally got up the nerve to tackle the first chapter, it proved your fear founded.
  • You break into whirling dervishes out of the joy of finding out that some of your current students are signed up to take another class with you next semester (they don't all hate me!), and really, who needs a social life anyway?  
  • You wake up the next morning, remembering why you need a social life anyway, when you realize that less than half of your class has shown up that morning for class... again... and if this is supposed to be a source of joy, it's an epic fail.
  • Your excuse for missing your best friend's party?  "I need to make lesson plans for next semester."
  • You have nightmares that instead of parmigiana cheese, you just sprinkled your meal with cheesy cliches submitted by your students.
  • You fall asleep at night crying over a particularly moving story written by one of your students.
  • In church, you find yourself taking notes, not over the content of the sermon, like you should, but over transition techniques you want to suggest to your students.
  • Your tongue is constantly bleeding from biting it to keep from editing your friends' and family's grammar mistakes when they speak.
  • You take two weeks to respond to a friend's email because you have to resist the urge not to give him or her writing suggestions and not to proofread his or her spelling and punctuation.
  • In spite of finding a good job, good students, your own home, and a solid footing at last, and in spite of intense scholastic burnout, you still find yourself filling out graduate school applications to get a PhD.  You can only stop yourself from sending them off when you remember the hellishness of writing a 50-page thesis and you further remember that you'd have to write a 100-page dissertation.  You still have to keep yourself from picking the application back up and sending it out, anyway.
  • You realize that your blog has become nothing more than a day-by-day account of teaching, how tired you are, and when your dog wags her tail harder than normal.  It's official--you have no life.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

[Pondering and Wondering and Meandering]

With three weeks left of the semester, including finals week, I'm definitely spread a bit thin.  Once again, I anticipate grading everyone's work down to the last minute, as I did at midterm.  I'm hoping by the summer semester that I'll have my home pretty much organized and that I'll be be able to be more focused.  There's no telling on that, really, but I keep hoping, anyway.

I've felt crazy-tired lately, and I'm not sure why.  I know I'm busy, but I seem to be getting a reasonable amount of sleep and, for the most part, pretty decent nutrition.  Still, I continue with the sleepies.  It'd be nice if my three week break would rejuvenate. I guess we'll see.

I need to write a decent update this week, but right now, I've got fifteen students sitting in front of me, going through their journaling period, and it's mildly distracting to say the least.

Until next time, kids, stay tuned.